DIY Pressed Flower Cards

flower cards

‘Tis the season for all things flowers! Not only are gardens booming with bright blooms but so are the roadsides. With all of this floral abundance,  why not make something with those flowers that you can use throughout the rest of the year.

Something like greeting cards and notecards, perhaps…

These greeting cards were the inspiration for this post. These creative, whimsical cards were handmade by one of the sisters at Blue Cliff Monastery in New York.

step 1

Collect flowers, ferns, herbs and any other foliage you desire, making sure that they are without any holes or blemishes. For flowers, you can collect just the flowers heads or choose to keep their stems attached.

step 2

Place a clean sheet of paper in the middle a large sized book. Lay the flowers and foliage on the clean sheet of paper without overlapping them. Lay another clean sheet of paper over the arrangement on the page and slowly close the book. Place 2-3 heavy books, such as a dictionary, on top of the book with the flowers and do not disturb for 5-10 days.

If you’re anxious to get your card making on immediately, you can press flowers in just 5 minutes using an iron. Checkout this tutorial to learn how.

pressing

step 3

Once your flowers and other plant materials are pressed and fully dry, remove them from the sheet of paper on which they were dried. Some flowers may stick to the paper so be careful when nudging them off the page; an X-Acto knife is a great tool for this task.

step 4

Arrange the pressed flowers and foliage on your greeting card according to your design. You can use plain card stock paper or even regular printing paper. If you use a lot of glue on your pressed flowers, however, the regular printing paper is prone to wrinkling.

modpodge

Homemade Mod Podge: Mix 1 part Elmer’s glue and 1 part water in a jar. Add more glue if you want a thicker consistency.

glue and parchment

step 5

Now that you have your design, slowly brush the backs of the pressed flowers with glue. Tweezers come in handy for glue application especially for small flowers and leaves.

As for the glue, I made a frugal Mod Podge mixture via this article from The Krazy Koupon Lady which works perfectly for this project.

Next, place the flower with the glue onto the card, using wax paper or parchment paper to keep glue off of your hands as you press down firmly.

card and callig

step 6

Add other design elements such as hand-lettering or hand-drawings to your card.

main image2

Voilà!

Makers Series: The Things We Carry

Make more and consume less. This, for us, is one of the most alluring aspects of homesteading and a life of voluntary simplicity. From gardening, canning, sewing, animal husbandry, home brewing, bread making and more, we relish learning the skills that bring us closer to self-reliance and walking more lightly on the earth. As we continue to build our skills and knowledge, we recognize that we can’t learn it all nor can we do it all; that’s where a community of makers comes in. This community possesses talents and capabilities that extend far beyond what we could ever dream to master ourselves. Craftsmen, artists and teachers; weavers, woodworkers, pottery makers, knitters and so many others: THANK YOU for spurring innovations that improve our quality of life and for creating beautifully crafted objects and experiences that make our lives more enjoyable.

0antler basket

An antler basket made by Mary Carty. The materials include foraged deer antler for the handle, rattan reed for the ribs and sea grass cordage for the weaving.

One of our goals this year is to engage with more makers and share their talents and skills here. Makers working to preserve traditional skills; makers harnessing their creativity to make a living for themselves; makers making for the sheer joy and satisfaction of creating. Makers like Mary and Steven Carty, a mother and son duo carrying on their Lenape heritage through the traditional skill of foraging and the art of basketry.

mary in studio

Mary among the shelves of her weaving studio at the Pinelands Folk Music & Basketry Center.

The Carty family owns and operates the Pinelands Folk Music & Basketry Center which contains a small shop that sells folk music instruments, handmade goods including baskets woven by Mary and Steven, and a weaving studio fully stocked with materials for basket making.

1making detail

Steven R. Carty demonstrates how he creates the framework for his antler baskets.

Sourcing for these materials range from wholesale suppliers to individual cottage industries to foraged materials from public and private lands nearby. Steven does a lot of the latter. He is an avid bushcrafter, stealth hiker, camper and forager. A past student of Doug Elliott, Steven’s knowledge of foraging stretches from fibers for basket weaving to herbal remedies and medicinal preparations. He forages in areas where the material to be collected and harvested is available in abundance, then helps nature along to regenerate by casting the native seeds he finds in and around those areas. A few of the foraged materials they use for their weavings include pine needles, tree bark, driftwood and even shed antlers.

making detail2

To make cordage, twist two opposing stretches of fibers against one another. Here, Steven is twisting ribbons of the inner bark of paper mulberry.

Some of the knowledge Steven imparted about  natural materials and fibers include the following:

  1. Basswood bark, paper mulberry bark, mature nettle stems, and dogbane can be used for cordage
  2. When using basswood for cordage the bark needs to break down in water for several days and the mid layer of this bark is the best section of material to use
  3. River driftwood is preferable to ocean driftwood for using as the handles of a basket because the salt seems to compromise the integrity of the wood in ocean driftwood
  4. When a pine tree dies under the right conditions, the resin retreats into the tree and becomes fatwood instead of rotting; fatwood makes excellent fire-starter
2drift wood

“I had learned from my mother how to make the basic ribbed basket, woven around an antler to form the handle. Then I started developing my own style of basket, replacing the antler with driftwood and using sea grass cordage for the weaving. The resulting work of art looked as though the dunes themselves had woven them.” –S.R.C.

 

gourd basket

Mary storytelling as she puts the finishing touches around the rim of a gourd basket. On the gourd she’s used a wood burning tool to etch the Mark Twain quote, “Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile.”

 

3longleaf pine duo

Basket made by Mary of locally foraged longleaf pine needles. Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) got its common name for having the longest leaves/needles of the eastern pine species. The tree from which these needles were sourced may be the northernmost longleaf pine and the only one growing in Steven and Mary’s part of the northeast. Steven has plans to venture southward to bring a second longleaf pine from its southern native range up to his native New Jersey so that longleaf pine needles will continue to be available for future generations of weavers in his local community.

5pine duo

Coiled pine needle baskets.

The knowledge and wisdom that these two basket makers possess are the result of years of experience in fostering their craft. They  create baskets that are in themselves works of art and unique decorative pieces for a home. Not only this, they also teach the skill and art of basketry which equips others with the abilities to create, develop and contribute to the evolution of the craft.  In these ways they share their ancestral connection to the tradition of weaving with the rest of us. What they’ve received they have carried and are passing on for others to carry forward. How very fitting, as baskets are made for carrying things with.

6portrait1

Mother and son, Mary and Steven R. Carty outside the Pinelands Folk Music & Basketry Center.

Seasonal Allergy Tonic

allergy shot1

It’s that time of year for us allergy sufferers. Maybe it’s a psychological trick but each year seems worst than the previous one when it comes to seasonal allergies and their symptoms, no? While there is plenty of this herbal tincture  in our home apothecary, on some days it falls short in its capacity to relieve the congestion and the runny nose.  After a couple of days cursing nature, it was time to love nature again. After a bit of research on natural remedies for seasonal allergies, I found this recipe from Sherrie at With Food and Love. Her turmeric honey super booster is a deliciously thick concoction that’s simple to make, but I wanted to make an even simpler and more portable version I could drink using ingredients that are always available in our kitchen.

lemons

With careful consideration based on the research available along with some trial and error, three ingredients made the final cut for this tangy allergy tonic: lemon juice, homemade apple cider vinegar and raw honey from our bees.

The “recipe” is simply 1 part lemon juice, 1 part acv and 1/3 parts honey. Bada bing bada boom! I drink a little bit of this mixture throughout the day as needed. Together with the goldenrod and mullein tincture it’s been helpful in relieving some of the nasal issues due to my allergies. Now if someone would only come up with a recipe for natural eyedrops (not an eye rinse or a compress but actual eyedrops ’cause I’m all about on the go friendly remedies) to relieve itchy eyes.

allergy shot

For more natural remedies in the fight against seasonal allergies you might want to check out these articles:

  1. Natural Treatments for Your Seasonal Allergies from Naturopathic.org
  2.  Local Honey for Allergies from DIY Natural
  3. 5 Home Remedies for Seasonal Allergies (Beyond Local Honey) from Everyday Roots
  4. Miracle Cure for Allergies from Gardenista

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, what are some effective natural remedies you’ve used?

Synchronicity: A Timely Visit Abroad

The last couple months have held their fair share of changes for us, the result of careful consideration to re-balance our efforts in our homestead search and training. These changes include a move to the suburbs, daily commuting and weekend countdowns, and a flock of chickens that are no longer free-rangers. As we lean into this more conventional Western way of life in the interim, maintaining a sense of perspective seems more important more than ever before. 

citrus B

When life gives you lemons, save the seeds and plant more lemon trees!

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